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Exclusive ITV News Anglia survey reveals scale of mental health problems in our schools

Mental health problems among children are on the rise - but schools in this region admit they do not have the money to properly support their pupils.

In an exclusive survey of 260 headteachers, ITV News Anglia found 98% of schools had seen an increase in the number of students struggling with their mental health over the last five years.

Yet around half have had to cut funding for support and 94% say they do not have the resources they need help children experiencing mental health issues.

Our survey was answered by 159 primary schools, 85 secondary schools and 13 all-through schools from across the region - Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes.

Mary Sparrow, principal at City Academy Norwich, while schools receive additional funding for children from deprived backgrounds - in the form of the pupil premium - there was no extra money to help tackle mental wellbeing.

The funding stays the same for the child regardless of what issues they bring with them. We do get the Pupil Premium, which brings extra money for disadvantage, but we are held robustly to account for that and it is for children to help with their learning.

But they will not learn if they have mental health issues and we do not receive any funding for that.

– Mary Sparrow, Principal, City Academy Norwich.

Headteachers told us pupils at their schools experienced a wide variety of mental health conditions, ranging from depression and eating disorders to psychosis and schizophrenia. Nearly every school - 99.22% - reported pupils suffering with anxiety.

But while many would assume the stress of exams or bullying would be the main cause of problems for schoolchildren, few headteachers agreed.

Instead, they told us family breakdowns and other issues at home were the biggest issue.

And while just 6% of primary headteachers blame social media for negatively affecting their pupils, that jumped to more than 40% once students reached secondary school.

That does not come as a surprise to the Mancroft Advice Project, a Norfolk-based charity which provides counsellors and youth workers to schools to help support young people.

We have a saying that bullying used to happen in school corners, well now those corners are on the internet.

One of the pressures from social media is it's always there - 24/7 - and they often won't put it down. Comments and images are always there.

– Dan Mobbs, Chief Executive, Mancroft Advice Project.

These are the full results of the ITV News Anglia survey.

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To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, all this week we will be looking at how mental health problems can affect people at any stage of their lives.

Watch ITV News Anglia every night at 6pm.

Read more: Where to go for mental health support and advice.

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